Hundreds of Instagram accounts and tracking software - how a stalker 'destroyed' a man's life

Credit: Echo Syndication

A man from Merseyside says a stalker destroyed his life by sending messages to his girlfriend and married women pretending to be him.Ian, who has asked only to be referred to be his first name, told how Annika Sands made his life a misery after she began stalking him online and waiting outside his gym.The 37-year-old, from Prenton, Birkenhead, set up "hundreds" of fake Instagram accounts which she used to message Ian and his friends and family, including his mum.

Sands' campaign of harassment first began as she started sending text messages to people, pretending to be him, which ultimately led to the breakdown of his relationship with his girlfriend.Ian said she sent the messages to friends, family and strangers including married women, using software that made it look like they had come from his mobile number.

It was only after Ian reported Sands to police that he discovered she had also made a police statement against him, claiming he was her boyfriend and he was abusing her.She later dropped the claims before making a further police complaint against Ian, claiming he was threatening to share revenge porn.But her web of lies started to unravel when police raided her home and seized nine laptops which showed she had been using tracking software to follow Ian's every move.Sands was handed a five-year Stalking Protection Order last month after police found she had stalked three men and their families.Now, Ian has spoken out for the first time about how Sands made his life hell in the hope of helping other stalking victims.

Credit: Echo Syndication

Ian said: "It was basically insinuating that I abuse women. I thought I've got to go to the police."She was contacting my mum, ringing my boss at half 11 at night. She was following where I went. I was leaving the gym and she'd be sitting in the car outside and she'd follow me."She was texting friends pretending to speak to me begging me to leave her alone."She actually contacted the managing director of my company, I don't know what she said to him.Obviously when she started contacting my mum I was thinking 'this needs to stop.'"

Following a lengthy investigation, police found Sands had stalked Ian and two other men between November 2019 and May 2021.She was given a five-year Stalking Protection Order on January 25, meaning that she is subjected to a number of conditions including contacting any person if they expressly state that they do not wish to be contacted by her.This can result in imprisonment should these conditions be breached.